Cynthia Rowland is a business and tax lawyer who helps philanthropists, including private individuals as well as for-profit and non-profit organizations, who wish to make the world a better place.

As a business attorney and strategist, she helps her clients achieve personal, family, business, charitable, philanthropic, and community objectives. Cynthia's expertise in this regard is broad, and includes entity formation, business transactions and grant agreements, regulatory compliance matters, partnerships and joint ventures, and mergers and dissolutions. In short, she’s well-attuned to the legal needs of philanthropic families, all forms of nonprofit organizations, and business enterprises with a corporate social responsibility directive.  

She also advises trustees and directors of charitable organizations on fiduciary and tax issues, including those raised by actual and potential conflicts of interest, regulatory investigations and audits, as well as issues raised by settlement of complex litigation involving the fiduciaries and charitable organizations. Cynthia has obtained numerous favorable private letter rulings from the Internal Revenue Service for her clients on complex federal tax issues.

Cynthia has a particular expertise in the legal and tax issues of corporate philanthropy—business enterprises using philanthropy to benefit their communities, push the boundaries of emerging science and technology not yet adequately funded by private capital, and other emerging approaches to the betterment of the planet and its inhabitants. Her clients seek her advice when pursuing charitable co-ventures, fundraising, formation of corporate foundations, and other types of social benefit corporations and entities. 

Her approach to her practice combines an enormous depth of experience and extensive technical expertise with an openness to innovation. She has the exceptional ability to understand what her clients are attempting to accomplish, in both the short and long term. By integrating traditional, proven approaches with new, effective ideas and structures, Cynthia provides wise counsel to clients who are seeking to accomplish charitable objectives in a complex, ever-changing world.

She serves as a member of Farella’s Advisory Board, which provides long-term strategic direction for the firm.


  • The Legal 500 United States, Recommended - Not-for-Profit (2016-2021)
  • 2015 Annual List of Rainmakers, Minority Corporate Counsel Association
  • Best Lawyers in America in Non-Profit/Charities Law and Tax Law (2021-2022)
  • 2015 San Francisco Lawyer of the Year - Non-Profit/Charities Law
  • 2011 Outstanding Attorney of the Year Award, American Bar Association's Business Law Section Nonprofit Organizations Committee
  • Northern California Super Lawyers (2014-2021)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, Advisory Committee, Walt Disney Family Museum
  • Former Chair, Committee on Nonprofit Corporations, American Bar Association's Business Law Section (2005-2008)

Firm Highlights


Farella Braun + Martel Attorneys Named to 2021 Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Thirty-seven Farella Braun + Martel lawyers were named to the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists of top attorneys in Northern California for 2021. 2021 Farella Northern California Super Lawyers: George Argyris – Estate...

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51 Farella Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2022 and Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch

Forty-six Farella Braun + Martel lawyers were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America © .  Five Farella lawyers were named to Best Lawyers: Ones to...

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Farella Braun + Martel Ranked in Legal 500 United States 2021

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Insurance for Nonprofits: Managing Risk in Risky Times

Mary McCutcheon, Cynthia Rowland and guest speaker, Joan Dove from Gallagher, discuss "Insurance for Nonprofits: Managing Risk in Risky Times" at the April Nonprofit Education Series. Nonprofit organizations—and their directors and staff—are not immune to...

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The Art of Planning for Valuable Collections

Farella's Nonprofit Education Series features Cynthia Rowland with Farella Braun + Martel, and co-speaker, Andrea Roth with Roth Fine Art Appraisals, discuss estate and philanthropic planning for art and other valuable collections, including: Collection...

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Investigations, Audits, Subpoenas, Oh My! (Webinar)

Join our Nonprofit Education Series with speakers Cynthia Rowland, Aviva Gilbert and guest speaker, Stephanie Fauerbach from FTI Consulting, in the discussion on "Investigations, Audits, Subpoenas, Oh My!" Nonprofit entities can be just as prone...

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